However long an Emmy ceremony is, it’s impossible to honor all the great moments our ever-expanding television universe hands us each year. (Nor can we find enough time to razz the more questionable happenings.) Fortunately, there’s plenty of space right here to point out the best, brightest and plain oddest moments from the past season of TV. And so we present you with the Envy Awards!
Fine Feathers Special Recognition
We present an oversized boa to the presence of wings soaring across TV this past season, especially the breathtaking visual metaphors created by Daenerys in “Game of Thrones” (Drogon’s dark dragon wings seeming to rise from her body) and June (frozen alabaster statue wings framing her angelically) in “The Handmaid’s Tale.” But the prize really goes to the most fabulous feathered friends on TV this season: “Good Omens” demon Crowley and angel Aziraphale, the latter of whom even used a wing to shelter his pal from a rainstorm.
We Will Rock Us Award
Can you have too much of a good thing? Yep, when a fantastic show falls a little too in love with its own musical shtick. “Billions” loves to rock — remember Metallica in Season 1? — but this year tipped over, smashing the nail head a little too literally and frequently with its classic-rock cues. We love hearing everything from U2 to Guadalcanal Diary, but a song should augment, not spell out a sequence — particularly when a character decides he has to sing the lyrics to someone. Tied for the prize: “The Good Fight,” whose cup runneth over with Broadway veterans. We can’t deny seeing Audra McDonald and Christine Baranski duet on a Prince tune isn’t fun as hell — but quirk for quirk’s sake (the wonderful Michael Sheen singing a Jackson 5 tune in a gravelly Americanized voice) had us cocking our heads in confusion. It’s a short drop down the elevator shaft into late-run “L.A. Law” territory, “Good Fight.” Don’t lose the beat now.
Sharpest Use of a Last-Second Reveal
With friends like Amma, who needs ...
When it comes to “Sharp Objects,” we do mean last-second. While all the threads that tie up (however incredibly) the murders at the heart of the series come together in the final episode, only viewers who sat through the credits and witnessed a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it final “reveal” got the whole story. Amma as a snarling feral child explained everything — and nothing — simultaneously.
Most Startling Use of Fruit
The comedy “Ramy” explored dark areas of moral questionability in its first season, but even we were surprised at the sight of Osama bin Laden snacking on strawberries and whipped cream inside our hero’s home. Yes, it was a dream — but still, picturing the architect behind 9/11 empathizing with Ramy’s desire for a cellphone had us sit up and take notice.
More, More, More Prize
When “The Good Place’s” resident mainframe/database Janet hid all of our main humans in her “void,” they showed up as replicas of Janet. Not only was this an amazing acting challenge for D’Arcy Carden, it meant we could enjoy watching Chidi and Eleanor smooch — except it was Janet-Chidi and Janet-Eleanor locking lips. We loved this almost as much as we loved seeing Carden playing opposite … well, herself. No wonder so many people want to change their “Alexa” voice-recognition device to “Janet.”
Most Triumphant Use of Previous Seasons
“American Horror Story” has been using its connective story tissue between seasons virtually since it began, but this year, “Apocalypse” went full-on Greatest Hits with fans, throwing back to all-grown-up characters (Michael Langdon), the return of Season 1‘s Rubber Man, the return of the Coven and a true all-star gathering of favorites (Violet, Tate, Dr. Ben Harmon, Billy Dean Howard). What a glorious reward for viewers who’ve been unnerved and terrified by this series since 2011.
Greatest Absence of a Sandwich
Personal touches on Masterpiece’s “Endeavour” are like precious gems to fans, but this year’s friction between Detective Inspector Thursday and his wife meant there were exactly zero chances for Morse to wryly predict what lunch his partner’s wife had prepared for him that day. The lack of the gentle gag in a smart show that features few laugh moments made us re-Morse-ful.
What’s in the Box Honorable Mention
Judy’s a little unbalanced throughout the first episode of “Dead to Me,” but we forgive her because she’s wholly earnest about her friendship with Jen, struck up in a grief support group. But then she goes and opens her storage locker door — and we realize the banged-up car inside is likely the one that mowed down Jen’s husband — and sped off. Sometimes the best twists are the ones we don’t see coming — like a speeding motor vehicle.